Poor bumper design 'costs motorists billions'Some drivers stung with huge repair bills

12 December 2007

Bumper damage

Poor car bumper design is costing UK motorists more than £2 billion a year in unnecessary repairs, according to a motoring research centre.

Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Research Centre, says the bumpers on some cars are so weak that an impact of only six miles per hour can be enough to write them off.

It crash-tested ten top-selling new cars at the front and rear to assess their bumper performance and rated 11 out of 20 bumpers as ‘poor’.

Only one bumper was deemed ‘good’, one was ‘acceptable’ and seven were rated as ‘marginal’.

Suzuki Swift

On the Suzuki Swift, the combined front and rear repair costs following the six miles per hour crash tests caused £4,600 pounds worth of damage, which would have written off the car.

The Honda CR-V, Citroen C4 Picasso and the Land Rover Freelander 2 were also rated poor for both front and rear bumpers.

This rating means that repairs following a front and rear collision at six miles per hour would cost in excess of £1,350 for each bumper.

£1,350

Bumper repair cost for some cars after 6 mph crash

A ‘good’ assessment would be a repair cost of less than £350 per bumper and the best performers in the tests were the rear of the Ford S-Max, which rated as ‘good’ and the front of the Toyota Auris which achieved an ‘acceptable’ rating.

Safety tests

Concerns that strong bumpers could injure pedestrians were disproved as the best frontal performer, the Toyota Auris, also achieves almost a top score in the Euro NCAP pedestrian safety tests.

Matthew Avery, Research Manager at Thatcham, said: ‘If only motorists could see for themselves the limited protection that some bumper systems are giving their vehicles, they might not buy them in the first place.

‘Some designs don’t have a bumper beam at all – just a flimsy plastic covering that looks like a bumper.’

Which? Motoring Editor Richard Headland said: ‘This important piece of research by Thatcham exposes just how much some bumper designs have moved away from their traditional purpose - to protect the car.

'Some of the repair costs for such common low-speed crashes are astronomical - and while it's often the insurance company that foots the bill after an accident, all motorists pay the price of expensive bodyshop repairs in the long run.'